Will-substitutes have become an increasingly popular way to transfer ownership of property at death while avoiding probate. One of the most useful and popular will-substitute forms is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust may look and function much like a will but has important distinct features that make it a useful estate planning tool. To establish a living trust, their must be a written document that identifies the property in the trust, a trustee to manage and administrate the trust, and any beneficiaries who will benefit from the trust.

Benefits of a Living Trust:
One of the greatest benefits of a living trust is the ability to avoid probate. Probate can be an expensive and time intensive process that many estates try to avoid. Another major benefit of a living trust is the flexibility for the donor. A living trust may be changed by its creator over time. Up until the time of death, the creator may retain the ability to amend, revoke, and use the trust assets. Other important benefits include privacy, limiting challenges in probate, the ability to assigned a power of attorney to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated, and a continuous ability to manage and grow the assets.

Disadvantages to a Living Trust:
Living trusts have plenty of benefits, but there are some disadvantages. Although a living trust avoids probate, creating one nonetheless requires the expense of creation, which is often more expensive than drawing a will. Additionally, the consistent management and oversight required by a living trust may be more inconvenient then drafting a will that holds all of the donor’s property.

Every individual’s property and wishes are unique. The attorneys at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fisher & Bouslog, P.C. are experienced in handling complex estate issues. Contact us at (515) 288-5000 to discuss whether a living trust could be used in your estate planning.

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